In today’s highly competitive business environment, running a business is very challenging. Globalized business environment, information revolution, new forms of competition, ever demanding customers, rapidly changing technology and fluctuations in economic activity provide both opportunities and challenges. To capitalize on the opportunities and convert the challenges into opportunities, businessmen should possess the following qualities:
1. Determination and will to succeed
A businessman should have courage and fighting spirit. There might be initial failures and setbacks. He should not let them affect his focus and concentration. He should possess patience and perseverance to fight against all problems and overcome all hindrances to achieve success.
For example, When Infosys was being set up in 1981, many banks denied them loans, there was a long delay in importing computers and customers were reluctant to place orders. Inspite of the difficulties, the promoters (N.R.Narayanamurthy, Nandan Nilekani, Dinesh, Gopalakrishnan, N.S.Raghavan, and Shibulal) struggled hard and persisted in their efforts and today it is globally renowned for its quality of services.
2. Initiative and quick decisions
A businessman cannot wait for things to happen. He has to grab the opportunities that emerge and convert them into successful businesses. He needs to be quick in taking decisions because any delay on his part would benefit the competitor. Speed to market is very important in today’s intensely competitive environment.
For example Ratan Tata of Tata group identified an opportunity in the Indian small car segment. Though Tata Motors was manufacturing only light commercial and heavy commercial vehicles (trucks, lorries, buses, vans etc.,) he took the initiative of entering into the car industry and today Tata Indica and Indigo cars enjoy good domestic and export markets.
3. Smart thinker
A businessman should be a smart thinker, understand changes that are happening, spot emerging opportunities and utilize them for the success of his business.
For example, Mr.C.K.Ranganathan, promoter of CavinKare identified the emerging consumer shift from chemical based to herbal based products. He introduced Fairever fairness cream with herbal extracts (saffron based) which captured substantial market share in the fairness cream market and even the market leader HLL was forced to introduce herbal based fairness creams such as Ayush etc. Similarly Meera herbal shikakai powder from the same company has enjoyed great success.
4. Integrity and morality
The reputation and image built by a business plays an important role in determining its success. Businessmen who indulge in corruption or resort to dishonest means cannot survive in the long run. Therefore a businessman should be fair in his dealings.
Globally it has been proved (e.g., WorldCom, Enron etc) that businesses which are unethical, fail in the long run. In India, promoters of Infosys, TVS group, Tata group etc., are some examples of businessmen building businesses with a spotless reputation and clean image.
5. Education and training
Though businessmen such as Henry Ford (Ford Motor Corporation) Dhirubhai Ambani (Reliance), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mammen Mappillai (MRF), Rajagopal (Hotel Saravana Bhavan), Chandramogan (Hatsun Food Products-Arun Ice cream, Arokya and Komatha milk brands) etc were able to achieve success without the benefit of higher education, it is an accepted fact that education and training increase the chances of success.
The younger business leaders such as Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Rajiv Bajaj, Jehangir Wadia (Bombay Dyeing group) are all highly educated (many in foreign Universities). Due to a strong theoretical foundation backed by practical exposure, they are able to take their businesses to greater heights.
6. Continuous Learning and Updation
The pace of change is rapid and highly unpredictable in today’s business environment. Product life cycles have become shorter due to changing preference of customers and rapid advancements in technology. Therefore continuous learning and updation of knowledge is the key to success.
Businessmen should learn and keep themselves updated about the changes in the business environment including the latest trends, new products introduced by competitors, fashions, technology, business models, best practices etc.
As Alvin Toffler had rightly observed,
The illiterate of the new millennium will not be only those who cannot read and write, but also those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
7. Ability to forecast
The future is full of uncertainty and change. To achieve success, a businessman should have the ability to forecast future trends in the market. This would help him to adapt his business according to the new trends or build new businesses to take advantage of new opportunities.
C.K. Prahlad and Gary Hamel, in their celebrated book, ‘Competing for the future’ say,
“Everyone is going to have probably more resources, more money or whatever, but if you can envision the future and take yourself into that future, you are going to win in the end.”
Sunil Mittal who was manufacturing bi-cycle spare parts and telecom components was able to forecast that the Indian mobile communications market would have huge potential for growth. He seized the opportunity and today his company, Bharti Enterprises (Airtel) is the leading mobile service provider in India.
8. Dynamic Leadership
A businessman should have dynamic leadership qualities. He should be able to provide the right direction and guidance and motivate his employees to higher levels of performance. Sustained success of any business depends on the quality of leadership. There have been many instances where poor leadership has resulted in once profit making companies to fail, while effective leadership has turned around loss making entities into profit making organizations.
One of the reasons for Sundaram Fasteners of the TVS group to earn consistent profits, to win the ‘Best Supplier Award’ from General Motors for 4 consecutive years, and become the second largest automobile components exporter, is the visionary leadership of Mr. Suresh Krishna. He provided the right direction by emphasizing on quality and cost reduction right from the beginning and the company is now reaping the benefits.
9. Risk taking ability
Every business venture involves some amount of risk and uncertainty. Profits are not certain and there is possibility of incurring losses. At the same time it is true that ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained‘. Therefore the businessman should have the ability to take calculated risks by analyzing the various business opportunities as well as the risk and return involved in them.
For example, Captain Gopinath of Deccan Airways took a calculated risk of entering into the airline industry and pioneered the low cost model in India. Many people doubted whether it would be a success, but Captain Gopinath had rightly analyzed the market, understanding the potential of the low cost model and today Deccan Airways is a success story. It now enjoys the Number two position in the Indian airline industry, next only to Jet Airways.
10. Personal Qualities
Apart from the above mentioned qualities, a businessman should possess commonsense, courage, dedication, patience, tact, charm and emotional stability to succeed in business.